This purple cabbage slaw is crunchy and super delightful. And the citrusy peanut butter dressing is so incredibly good that you'll want to put it in all your salads - no kidding.
Forget the mayo-laced coleslaw. You'll not miss it one bit.
Purple cabbage slaw
I make this slaw with purple / red cabbage. But you can make it with a green one too and it'll still be fantastic. Enjoy on its own as a salad. Or use it to amp up the taste of your tacos, sandwiches, wraps, hot dogs or burgers. Versatile and delicious!
The tangy, nutty, slightly spicy flavors dance perfectly together and have the potential to impress everyone. This coleslaw is mainly savory with just a hint of sweetness to balance the flavors.
There's no mayonnaise, but you'll still get a satisfying smooth creamy-ish feel (thanks to the emulsification that happens in the blender). And who doesn't like all the vibrant colors!
Why you'll love it
A few things (besides the great taste) that I love about this slaw and you might too...
- Easy prep, big flavor – dump all the dressing ingredients in a blender, blitz it and mix with the vegetables. That's all – no cooking involved.
- Make-ahead friendly – prepare the veggies and peanut dressing ahead of time. Refrigerate separately and then mix before serving. Perfect for meal prep, BBQ, potluck, picnic, grilling or summer cookouts. Plus, so easy to transport.
- Customizable – you can add other slaw-friendly ingredients you like (see variations section below).
- Comes with a shortcut – tight on time? Grab store-bought shredded veggies or slaw mixes. Blend my dressing, toss all and you're done.
Here are some helpful notes on ingredients you'll need to make this mayo-free purple cabbage coleslaw. See the recipe card below for exact quantities.
- Purple cabbage — aka red cabbage. Green cabbage is the best substitute, but napa and savoy cabbages will work too. Not sure you can cut the cabbage right? I've got a companion guide with tips.
- Carrot – You'll need it julienned, but shredded will also do. I use a julienne peeler. You can use a food processor or mandoline as well. The size of shreds/pieces may vary with these tools but doesn't make a huge difference. Oh and if you have leftover carrot, make this easy-peasy carrot pasta recipe. Or try these sweet and spicy glazed carrots.
- Fresh mint – Not a usual suspect in slaws but you'll love it here. Dried mint won't cut it. You'll need chopped mint for slaw and some leaves for the dressing. Keep some chopped leaves aside for garnishing – adds a nice pop of color.
For the dressing
- Peanut butter – Natural, creamy, crunchy - all textures work. As long as it isn't labeled "peanut spread" because that may not be the same as butter. And sometimes doesn't even have roasted peanuts as the main component. Always read the ingredients. Don't have peanut butter? See the substitutions section below.
- Lime juice – Fresh juice please, or use fresh lemon juice instead. Bottled juice is fine but nothing like fresh.
- Vinegar – Regular distilled white vinegar works just fine. Apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar can be used but might change the taste a little.
- Oil – I prefer extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. But feel free to use any vegetable oil you like. Provided it's not too overpowering in taste.
- Garlic - You'll need a few fresh cloves. If peeling garlic irks you, you may find these tips helpful. Store-bought minced garlic or paste won't do - the chemical-tasting undertone is often noticeable in the dressing.
- Ginger - Just like fresh garlic, only fresh ginger will work.
- Mint - Whole leaves, no need to chop.
- Cayenne pepper - For a tiny kick. You can sub with an equal quantity of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Salt and sugar - For a balance of sweet and savory.
How to make purple cabbage slaw
I'm sharing these step-by-step photo instructions just as a visual walkthrough. And you'll need to refer to the recipe card below for quantities, instructions and notes – all in one place.
1. Mix the veggies – Combine sliced cabbage, julienned / shredded carrot and chopped mint in a big bowl. Remember to set aside a little portion of chopped mint for garnishing.
2. Prepare the dressing – Add all the dressing ingredients in a blender / food processor. Then blend until everything is super smooth.
3. Add the dressing – Pour the blended dressing over the slaw mix. Use a little less dressing if you prefer your slaw a bit dry.
4. Toss and serve – Mix everything together. Sprinkle some chopped mint on top and dig in!
- Use fresh ginger and garlic.
- Tweak the spice level to liking. And if you can't handle heat at all, skip cayenne.
- Taste and adjust the dressing before you add it to the veggies. Increase sugar for more sweetness. Or lime juice or vinegar for more tang.
- Don't dress the slaw too early. Fully prepared slaw does keep good in the fridge but can get soggy. So wait to mix just before serving for the freshest crunch.
- I like my slaw well-coated. But you can use less dressing if that's how you prefer. Save extras for later. Or use as a sauce for things like spring rolls, satay, rice bowls, grilled veggies, wings etc.
Making ahead and storage
- You can make and refrigerate the dressing up to 5 days beforehand. It might thicken a bit though. Just add a little water to get that pourable consistency back.
- You can also chop and refrigerate the veggies up to 1 day ahead. To keep them nice and crisp, line the container or resealable bag with kitchen paper towel.
- Store leftover (dressed) slaw for up to 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- I wouldn't suggest freezing the slaw; the texture will change.
Substitutions and variations
- Try different cabbage types: green, napa or savoy. Mix them up if you like.
- Simplify the prep even more by using store-bought shredded / chopped cabbage and matchstick carrots or precut slaw mixes.
- Feel free to throw in other shredded or sliced veggies like onions, bell peppers and kale. Apples and mung bean sprouts will also pair well.
- If you don't have peanut butter, unflavored peanuts will work too. Use 2 tablespoons of dry roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted) for every tablespoon of butter. If using salted ones, skip salt from the recipe; adjust after tasting. Blend dressing really well to avoid peanut bits.
- I've also tried cilantro and parsley in the dressing recipe. Not as good as mint, but better than having no herb.
- Transform this slaw into a wholesome meal by mixing cooked grains like quinoa, farro or wild rice.
- If you like, replace the sugar with honey, maple syrup or agave. Alternatives like monk fruit sweetener and erythritol will also work.
- Amp up the texture by tossing in some crushed peanuts, toasted sesame seeds or crispy fried shallots.
Remember: When you swap or change something, it will influence how long your prepared slaw stays good. And of course, it'll affect the taste too. Don't forget to increase the dressing quantity when you add more ingredients.
What to serve with purple cabbage slaw
Purple cabbage slaw is such a fantastic match for so many dishes. Can't list them all, but here are some ideas to spark your imagination:
- Chicken or beef bowls
- Grilled meats
- Grilled seafood
- Chicken satay and skewers
- Ribs and chops
- Burgers, wraps, rolls, sandwiches and hotdogs
- Tacos - all kinds
- Rice or grain bowls
- Baked or fried chicken wings or drumsticks
- Pulled meats (beef, pork or chicken)
Just so you know!
- This coleslaw is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, dairy-free and gluten-free.
- It's got a super subtle kick – that tiny pinch of cayenne shouldn't be worrying.
- You can also make the dressing without a blender or food processor. See notes at the end of the recipe card.
- If you're feeling adventurous and try other nut butters, be prepared for a whole different taste experience.
- Making this for a big crowd? Use the "+" sign on the recipe card below to bump up the servings. The ingredient quantities will adjust accordingly. Ta-da!
Speaking of things you should know – have you ever wondered if slaw and coleslaw are the same thing?
Slaw vs coleslaw
The words coleslaw and slaw are often used interchangeably, especially in North America. But if you really want to get technical there's a slight difference.
Coleslaw is a salad that has to have cabbage (coming from the Dutch term "Koolsla," where 'Kool' translates to cabbage and 'sla' means salad). "Slaw" can be any salad made of shredded veggies – cabbage or no cabbage.
So basically – while all coleslaws are slaws, the same isn't true for all slaws.
- 4 cups (400 g) thinly sliced purple cabbage - ½ of a medium head. Note A
- 2 cups (260 g) carrot, julienned or shredded - 2 medium carrots
- ½ cup (10 g) fresh mint leaves, chopped - around 50 to 60 leaves
For the dressing
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter - Note B
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice - 1 large lime. Or fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar - Note C
- 2 tablespoons olive oil - or any neutral-tasting vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 piece of ginger - piece size: 1 inch
- ½ cup (10 g) fresh mint leaves - around 50 to 60 leaves
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper - or crushed red pepper flakes
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar - any type
- 3 tablespoons water
- In a large bowl, combine the sliced purple cabbage, julienned / shredded carrot and chopped mint. Reserve a few chopped mint leaves for garnish.
- Then in a blender or food processor, add all the dressing ingredients. Blend until its smooth and creamy. See Note D below if you don't have either of these appliances.
- Pour the blended dressing over the slaw veggies and mix well. Use less dressing if you prefer your slaw a bit dry.
- Garnish with the reserved chopped mint – and dig in!
The nutritional information provided here is calculated using a third-party nutrition calculator. These values are estimates, and we cannot guarantee the correctness of the displayed numbers. Please see our disclaimer page.